Thousands mourn at services for slain NYSP trooper, Nicholas Clark

ALFRED — New York State Police Trooper Nicholas F. Clark was given a hero’s funeral Sunday at Alfred University in a service attended by the governor, the State Police superintendent, several thousand law enforcement personnel from across the country, and featuring a 21-gun salute and a helicopter flyover.

But it was Nick Clark the son, the brother, the uncle, the teammate and colleague who was remembered and emphasized during a funeral service in the McLane Center, just a short walk from the football field where Clark earned All-American honors for the Saxons.

Clark, 29, was shot and killed July 2 after responding to an emergency call for a suicidal man on Welch Road in the Town of Erwin. The suspect in Clark’s shooting, the 43-year-old suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

George P. Beach II, superintendent of the State Police, said Clark’s life provides a lesson for everyone: “Never hesitate. Challenge yourself. Laugh. Love life to its fullest.”

“As a commander, your main concern is that every one of your guys makes it home every day, and when one of your guys doesn’t come home, it leaves this big hole, this big loss in us,” Clark’s State Police Troop E commander, Staff Inspector Rick Allen, said prior to the service. “Nick was one of the best of the best of us. With only three years on the road, he was establishing himself as a great trooper, one of our best guys.”

Bagpipers, a riderless horse, and a State Police motorcycle detail preceded the hearse into the parking area behind the McLane Center, where hundreds of personnel from Troop E, Clark’s home troop, stood at attention as family members exited vans and entered the building for services.

In contrast to the traditional black worn by most mourners, several spouses of law enforcement officers wore bright blue dresses – representative of the “Thin Blue Line.”

A three-year veteran of the State Police, Clark, a Canisteo-Greenwood High School graduate, was most recently assigned to the Bath barracks, patrolling and policing in communities he knew well and in which he competed as a state champion wrestler and high school football star with the Canisteo-Greenwood Redskins.

“This was a 29-year old superstar in everything he did,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “So we wish the family peace and prayer, but it will be with them forever, this loss.”

“Over the past week, I’ve learned Nick had a passion for life, was hardworking, humble and kind . . . steady, consistent with a great sense of humor. Public service was a perfect fit,” State Police Superintendent Beach II said during the funeral service. “Nick knew that he was where he could make a difference.”

Beach was clearly working hard to control his emotions as he spoke about the loss of Clark and the State Police’s commitment to the trooper’s family, including his mother, Theresa Gunn, his father, Anthony Clark, his brother, Nathan, step-siblings, grandparents, and nieces,who, a funeral speaker noted, called him “uncle Nicky.”

To family, Beach said, “I promise we will never leave you.”

Beach added: “His life was taken because he did what we asked him to do.”

The funeral service was officiated by Rev. Donald Maynard, pastor of the Canisteo Wesleyan Church, who said he watched Nick and his brother, Nathan, grow up. “Everything came easy to Nick. His smile was contagious,” Maynard said.

Clark died “Trying to help somebody, trying to make it right,” said Maynard, who quoted from Psalm 39, verse 4: “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!”

Inside the McLane Center, Gov. Cuomo knelt in front of the Clark family, speaking softly for a few minutes with the trooper’s parents. In a statement to reporters following the service, Cuomo said he has seen “many ugly things” as governor, but called the heartbreak of a young trooper’s killing “the absolute worst.”

“On a personal level, what do you say to a family that loses a 29-year old son? It’s unnatural,” Cuomo said. “We bury our parents. We bury our grandparents. You don’t bury your children.

“For all the law enforcement that are inside, state police, local police this is a frightening and dangerous world that we live in. In some ways more frightening and more dangerous than it has ever been before.”